“Little bit of guilt trip”: Jeff Blau joins landlords pushing return to work

Related’s Jeff Blau, RXR’s Scott Rechler among those reportedly pushing CEOs to return to offices

Related CEO Jeff Blau (Blau by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images; iStock)
Related CEO Jeff Blau (Blau by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images; iStock)

For some New York landlords, enough is enough.

Eager to get the city back to its former self, a group of property owners and operators have been calling major employers in an effort to convince them to speed up their return to work, according to Bloomberg.

“I’ve been really pushing the CEOs to bring people back into the office,” Jeff Blau, CEO of Related Companies, told Bloomberg. “I’ve been using a little bit of guilt trip and a little bit of coaxing.”

The motivation is clear: landlords are losing huge amounts of money as tenants fall behind on rent, abandon leases or leave sites altogether. Blau’s Related is marketing more than 300,000 square feet of office space at its Hudson Yards mall after Neiman Marcus announced its departure last month. The critical question: Is there demand?

There have been some positive signs. In the past two weeks, Amazon and Facebook made major commitments to New York’s office market. And in May, TikTok inked an office lease with the Durst Organization for 232,000 square feet at One Five One.

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But employees remain mostly at home. Just 8 percent of employees at major companies in the city have returned to work — with real estate standing out as the exception — according to a recent survey by the Partnership for New York City, a leading business group.

The group of landlords, which reportedly includes RXR Realty’s Scott Rechler and Rudin Management’s William Rudin, has contacted a slew of heavyweights including Goldman Sachs, Blackstone and BlackRock, using the argument that a return to work is safe — even patriotic.

“We’re creating our own fate by not bringing people back and restarting the largest economic engine in the country,” Rechler told Bloomberg.

“It’s as much of a civic obligation as anything else.” [Bloomberg] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan